Mechatronics-driven musical expressivity for robotic percussionists

Ning Yang, Richard Savery, Raghavasimhan Sankaranarayanan, Lisa Zahray, Gil Weinberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Musical expressivity is an important aspect of musical performance for humans as well as robotic musicians. We present a novel mechatronics-driven implementation of Brushless Direct Current (BLDC) motors in a robotic marimba player, named Shimon, designed to improve speed, dynamic range (loudness), and ultimately perceived musical expressivity in comparison to state-of-the-art robotic percussionist actuators. In an objective test of dynamic range, we find that our implementation provides wider and more consistent dynamic range response in comparison with solenoid-based robotic percussionists. Our implementation also outperforms both solenoid and human marimba players in striking speed. In a subjective listening test measuring musical expressivity, our system performs significantly better than a solenoid-based system and is statistically indistinguishable from human performers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME-20)
Place of PublicationBirmingham, UK
PublisherNew Interfaces for Musical Expression
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (2020) - Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Jul 202025 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameInternational Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME)
ISSN (Electronic)2220-4806


ConferenceInternational Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (2020)
Abbreviated titleNIME'20
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • robotics
  • mechatronics
  • musical expressivity


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